2020 Reads: The List So Far

The books below took her through a tumultuous year. Books are listed in the order in which she read them:

  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, by Jia Tolentino
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs OJ Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • TheChildren of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
  • Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey
  • Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us, by Frans de Waal
  • Caliban’s War, by James S. A. Corey
  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker
  • Abaddon’s Gate, by James S. A. Corey
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells
  • Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
  • Her Protector’s Pleasure, by Grace Calloway
  • The Snakes, by Sadie Jones
  • The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
  • First: Sandra Day O’Connor, by Evan Thomas
  • Colonel Chabert, by Honorée de Balzac
  • The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal
  • In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow
  • Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye
  • Your House Will Pay, by Stephanie Cha
  • Heaven, My Home, by Attica Locke
  • Bread and Salt: Stories, by Valerie Miner
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts, by Caroline Kim (Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize)
  • Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, by Edward Ball

The Reading Year, So Far 2020

At the end of January, she landed on her first great read of 2020: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg.

February was TOTALLY GREAT! She spent the entire month reading two good books: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison, and I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

The end of March brought her to Brideshead Revisited.

The end of April brought her to Leviathan Wakes, by James. S. A. Corey.

Last half of May: Caliban’s War (Book 2 of The Expanse) and Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker.

June: Abaddon’s Gate and Cibola Burn, Books 3 and 4 of The Expanse

July: The Snakes, by Sadie Jones

End of August: The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal

September: Great, great month. Read In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, and Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy (totally absorbing, great biography) by Larry Tye.

Currently reading: Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha.

To look forward to this month: the official launch of Caroline Kim’s collection, The Prince of Mournful Thoughts, the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Hilarious Stendhal Quote of the Day

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

The Charterhouse of Parma has reached a turning point. Fabrizio is recognized by a former servant as he tries to cross the Po River. From loneliness, Fabrizio tells this servant, right away: I killed a man this morning.

Ludovic promises to help Fabrizio. They manage to evade the police, but during “the long intervals” of hiding, Ludovic decides to make Fabrizio listen to his sonnets.

Who knew this former coachman always had a deep desire to write poetry!

Fabrizio’s reflections on Ludovic’s sonnets:

  • Their feelings were true, but somehow blunted by their expression, and the verses were scarcely worth transcribing; oddly enough, this ex-coachman had passions and visions that were lively and picturesque; they turned cold and commonplace as soon as he wrote them down.

Poor Fabrizio, hiding in the willows on the banks of the Po River, forced to listen to his companion recite his bad poetry!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Stendhal Quote of the Day

Chapter Eleven, The Charterhouse of Parma:

As we see, Fabrizio was one of those unfortunates tormented by their imagination, this is frequently the defect of intelligent men in Italy. A French soldier of equal or even inferior courage would have ventured to cross the bridge immediately, without brooding in advance upon the difficulties, but he would also have proceeded with all his composure when, at the end of the bridge, a short fellow dressed in gray said to him: “Go into the police office and show your passport.”

At this point, 1/3 of the way through The Charterhouse of Parma, self sincerely hopes dear blog readers adore Stendhal as much as she does. Otherwise it’s going to be a long September.

Interesting side note: In Chapter Eleven, Fabrizio’s height is revealed. He is five foot five. Wow, that is short! Somehow, she imagined him as tall and lean.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Your Daily Dose of Stendhal, Here

Sometimes her eager imagination concealed things from her, but she never entertained those deliberate illusions produced by cowardice.

— Chapter Six, The Charterhouse of Parma

Who Would Make a Better Fabrizio (The Charterhouse of Parma)

Just for fun (because self would rather look at possible Fabrizios than at clowns)

Why do both men wear glasses. Anyhoo, just imagine them without glasses, riding on a horse, saber outstretched.

Self has one more candidate. But she hasn’t found a suitable picture of him. She’ll keep looking.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

How To Be

Fabrizio’s looks save him over and over again. After the defeat of the French, he stumbles across the canteen woman who, despite having lost her cart and her horse, is still intent on protecting him.

Chapter Four, The Charterhous of Parma:

Canteen Woman (That’s all she ever goes by) to Fabrizio: “Get yourself away from this defeated army; find some way out . . . The first chance you get, buy yourself some civilian clothes. Once you’re eight or ten leagues away and you don’t see any more soldiers, take the mail-coach and rest up for a couple of weeks in some nice town where you can eat beefsteaks . . . As soon as you’ve got a gentleman’s clothes on your back, tear up your travel-permit . . . never say you were in battle, and don’t breathe a word about Bonaparte . . . When you want to go back to Paris, get yourself to Versailles first, then enter Paris from that side, walk right in as if you were out for a stroll. Sew your napoleons into your trousers. And above all, when you have to pay for something, don’t let anyone see more than what you need to pay. The saddest thing of all is that people are going to cheat you and gouge you out of all you have, and what will you do once you have no money, when you don’t even know how to take care of yourself?”

Chapter Four: Returning to the “Canteen Woman”

Don’t worry, self will not be giving blow by blow of each chapter of The Charterhouse of Parma. But she just wanted to do a quick post on the illustrations, by Robert Andrew Parker.

She finds them utterly charming, almost fairy-tale like. She’ll hunt up a hard copy of this book for her personal bookshelf.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Battle is Joined, Woo Hoo!

Still Chapter Three, The Charterhouse of Parma:

It might have been two o’clock in the afternoon . . . when a group of generals, followed by some twenty hussars, galloped past a corner of the vast field, on the edge of which he was still standing; his horse whinnied, reared two or three times, then pulled violently at the bit. “So be it, go!” Fabrizio decided.

Left to himself, the horse galloped off to join the escort following the generals. Fabrizio counted four gold-braided hats. Fifteen minutes later, Fabrizio understood from a few words spoken by a hussar near him that one of these generals was the famous Marshal Ney. His happiness was complete . . .

Fabrizio: “I want to fight right away”

Good Friday morning. Self spent all last night howling over Chapter Three of The Charterhouse of Parma.

Self will summarize events leading to this chapter.

Fabrizio, hero of the novel, has been trying to join the Battle of Waterloo. He heads towards the scene of battle, but keeps encountering women who point him in the wrong direction because they don’t want a young man so beautiful to die. One, who Stendhal refers to only as “the canteen-woman,” even decides to accompany him, to keep him out of harm’s way.

Chapter Three:

Many delightful conversations later, the canteen-woman caught sight of three or four French soldiers running toward her as fast as they could; she quickly jumped down from her cart and managed to hide fifteen or twenty feet off the road, crouching in a hole where a huge tree had been uprooted. “Now,” Fabrizio decided, “now I’ll find out if I’m a coward!” He stood beside the little cart the canteen-woman had abandoned and drew his saber. The soldiers paid no attention to him and ran past him through the grove to the left of the path.

“Those are our men,” the canteen-woman said calmly . . .

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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